This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

Updated: 29 Jun 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 4/5, RM63.71

With its Carveresque title, strippedback prose, and simple narratives recounting lives of quiet desperation and almost-grasped epiphanies, Jon McGregor may not be taking the short fiction into any brave new territory. But the stories in this wonderful collection are darkly compelling and entertaining enough to render such criticisms largely irrelevant. Like the taut tales in Cees Nooteboom’s ‘The Foxes Come at Night’ and Junot Diaz’s ‘Drown’, the individual stories here all seem to share the same world – in this case, the flat Lincolnshire fenlands – and this shared setting, along with recurring themes of loss, memory and intimations of disaster, help give the impression that they are but glimpses of a larger whole; of a fragmented novel almost.

There are flaws. ‘This isn’t…’ is perhaps 50 pages too long and some of the more whimsical aspects occasionally jar. But these are gently affecting short stories, well told, that don’t outstay their welcome. And that’s more than enough. Wayne Gooderham

Tags: Books